Corrections or additions?

This article was prepared for the April 6, 2005

issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Between the Lines

Our article on the invention of color television at the RCA

Laboratories after World War II (U.S. 1, November 14, 2002), continues

to provoke E-mail, such as this one from Ricardo Cuadra:

"Why is it, that all of you being scholars and capable of gathering

good research, don’t even mention Guillermo Gonzalez Camarena of

Mexico who obtained the first patent for colored television in the

world back in 1940.

"The first experimental television transmission in Mexico – from

Cuernavaca to Mexico City – was arranged by Francisco Javier Stavoli

in 1931. Stavoli purchased a Nipkow system from Western Television in

Chicago with funding from the ruling party, which was then called the

Mexican Revolutionary Party and became the current Institutional

Revolutionary Party. In 1934 Camarena built his own monochromatic

camera; by 1939, Camarena had developed a Trichromatic system, and in

1940 he obtained the first patent for color television in the world.

In 1942, after Lee deForest met with him in order to buy the rights,

he secured the U.S. patent under description of the Chromoscopic

Adaptors for Television Equipment."

Alex Magoun, curator of the Sarnoff Library and museum, replied.

"Thank you for responding, as I have learned about another television

pioneer. Please allow me, however, to respond in turn.

"You cite a widely repeated, unquestioned article on Sr. Camarena. I

do not doubt his talents and acknowledge the limitations on his

abilities because of the political and economic circumstances in

Mexico in that time. Sr. Camarena, however, was working on

electro-mechanical systems of color television, which is not

surprising given his training as an electromechanical engineer. The

article in U.S.1 highlighted RCA Laboratories because it invented and

demonstrated the first all-electronic color television system, one

that we still use with minimal adaptations today around the world.

"I have strong doubts about the claim made on Sr. Camarena’s behalf

that his August 19, 1940 patent was the first for color television in

the U.S. Patent Office for two reasons. First, the patent number

listed, USP no. 2,296,022, was awarded to M. Chernow on September 19,

1942 for a method of attaching monograms. You can look this up on the

US Patent and Trademark Office’s website:

Second, Camarena’s could not have been the first for the U.S. since

AT&T certainly patented the electro-mechanical color TV system that it

demonstrated in 1929, and Vladimir Zworykin applied in 1925 for a

patent on a nearly all-electronic color system.

"Perhaps if one was willing to perform some scholarship, we would

begin to know the motivations, inspirations, and frustrations that

shaped this fine man’s career and contributions. Unfortunately,

support for the study of the history of invention and innovation is

poorly funded around the world, and we do not have the resources to

locate such a scholar or inspire them in this direction."

Alex Magoun and the David Sarnoff library will host the 50th

anniversary celebration of RCA’s Electronic Music Synthesizer on

Thursday, April 14, at 8 p.m.

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A Jobseekers meeting was incorrectly listed as taking place on

Thursday, April 5. The meeting was Tuesday, April 5.

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